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Paper No.

10073
High Density Polyethylene Liners
for High Temperature and Gaseous Applications
Jim Schmitz
United Pipeline Systems
135 Turner Drive
Durango, Colorado, USA
Fax: +1.970.259.0356
Email: jschmitz@insituform.com

ABSTRACT
The process of utilizing an oversized high density polyethylene (HDPE) liner to protect pipelines from
internal corrosion has been used successfully for over 25 years. Limitations of use have been placed on
the technology, however, in certain applications due to higher temperature service and/or the presence of
vapor within the pipeline.
All HDPE plastic pipe liners used in gaseous applications are susceptible to the permeation of gas into
the annulus between the liner and the carbon steel pipe. Smaller molecules such as hydrogen are more
prone to permeation than others, and all molecules tend to permeate at greater relative rates under higher
pressure and temperature conditions. The Safetyliner HDPE liner system is designed to provide a
more effective and efficient method of managing the permeated gases that migrate into the annulus.
Safetyliner offers all of the same polyethylene lining protection of a smooth-wall HDPE liner, but
differs in that a series of small grooves exist on the outside of the liner. The grooves in the HDPE liner
pipe provide a path for any gases that may permeate the liner. These gases are channeled along the
grooves to monitoring vents positioned near the pipeline connections. This monitoring and venting can
be manually operated or fully automated to keep annular pressure below the level desired to prevent
integrity problems and to allow quick detection of any possible leak should a breech in the HDPE liner
occur.
This paper examines and details the theory behind the Safetyliner HDPE liner as well as provides an
example of use in a real world application.

1. INTRODUCTION
Internal corrosion of carbon steel pipelines has long been a problem for the oil and gas industry that has
required financial investment to combat along with operational and maintenance diligence. Even then,
inspection of pipeline internals is difficult and costly to achieve leaving an ongoing risk of leaks and
environmental damage. While there are many alternatives to preventing, mitigating, controlling, and
allowing for internal corrosion, the use of thermoplastic liners has proven to be very effective at
internally protecting carbon steel pipelines and providing significant life cycle cost advantages. High
density polyethylene (HDPE) is the traditional thermoplastic of choice for polymeric lining; however,
when high temperature and gaseous applications are encountered, other more exotic polymers and
polyamides have been used to varying degrees of success but usually at significantly higher material and

installation costs. A possible solution exists that allows for the use of oversized thermoplastic lining in
these more extreme conditions.

2. HIGH DENSITY POLYETHYLENE LINER HISTORY


HDPE liners have been used for decades to line carbon steel pipelines for protection against a corrosive
or abrasive attack. HDPE liners utilize a low cost and readily available raw material typically
specified as ASTM PE-3408 or PE-4710 or ISO PE-100 which also is chemically resistant across a
broad range of chemicals, and its physical properties are often favorable for increased resistance to
erosion compared to bare carbon steel. Additionally, the polymeric nature of HDPE and the resulting
properties lends itself to use as a means of rehabilitating existing pipelines since HDPE is excellent for
bridging holes and spanning gaps often caused by corrosion and erosion. Finally, in addition to reducing
or eliminating corrosion within the carbon steel pipelines, HDPE lining can also improve the flow
characteristics of the pipeline because although there is a slight reduction in pipeline inside diameter
(ID), the absolute roughness of HDPE is approximately 30 times smoother than new carbon steel.
While HDPE has been used for slip lining applications, this process is essentially using an existing
host pipe as a conduit for a smaller diameter, fully structural HDPE pipe. With a hoop strength that is
drastically lower than carbon steel, HDPE pipe must be very thick to contain increasing amounts of
pressure, and the pressure rating of the HDPE is significantly reduced in hydrocarbon service and at
temperatures above ambient conditions. As such, the use of interactive, tight fitting HDPE liners has
been developed and utilized in higher pressure corrosive applications often found in oilfield pipelines.
These applications typically include crude oil pipelines and pipelines containing oil emulsions or three
phase flow, produced water and water injection/disposal service, sour and wet gas pipelines, and CO2
production and injection lines. Other pipeline applications such as brine service, water and acid
wastewater, and chemical slurries are also excellent applications for HDPE liners.
Traditionally and predominately, smooth wall HDPE liners have been utilized to internally protect
pipelines. In fact with smooth wall liners, the only difference between HDPE liner pipe and stand-alone
HDPE pipe is the wall thickness. By-and-large, this has made it easier for HDPE pipeline manufacturers
to successfully adapt to production of HDPE liners because the only output variable is wall thickness.
The smooth wall on the outside of the HDPE liner allows for the tightest possible fit against the inner
wall of the host steel pipe which means that the smallest possible micro-annulus is formed between
the HDPE and host steel.

3. DESIGN
For interactive, tight fitting HDPE liners, it is important that the liner is custom sized for the pipeline
specifications under consideration. The HDPE liner is designed and produced such that the outside
diameter (OD) is larger than the ID of the host pipe to be protected or rehabilitated. Based on the ID of
the host pipe, the appropriate HDPE liner size is known, and the HDPE wall thickness can be chosen
based on extrusion capabilities and the desired service application. To save raw material cost of the
HDPE liner, the thinnest practical wall thickness is chosen; however, physical limitations of the HDPE
extrusion process is often the determining factor in allowable wall thickness. The industry strives to
produce interactive HDPE liners with a ratio of OD to wall thickness (called the Dimensional Ratio or
DR) of 41.

4. INSTALLATION
Before field installation can begin, a new or existing host steel pipeline is sectioned to allow for the
insertion of the HDPE liner. Once the HDPE liner is manufactured and delivered to site for the field
installation, the short (12 m or so) individual liner lengths are thermally fused into long, monolithic
sections particular to each sectioned length of host pipe previously prepared to accept the HDPE liner.
A blow-down pig and sizing plate are then attached to a steel cable and sent through a section of the host
pipeline. Once the steel reaches the other end, the section of pipe has been cleared for HDPE liner
installation since the steel sizing plate confirms a clear path, and the cable is attached to a fabricated
pull-head on the corresponding length of HDPE liner pipe.
A specially constructed winch or wireline then pulls the HDPE liner through a specially designed
diameter reducing mechanism. This mechanism may be either fixed or may have moving functionality
such as with the roller reduction process. This mechanism is positioned at the insertion end of the host
pipe usually in direct line with the host pipe entry point either above or below grade. The HDPE liner is
temporarily compressed radially as it passes through the diameter reducing mechanism, and it is also
placed under axial tension via the wireline pulling it through the equipment and into the host pipeline.
Both of these effects cause temporary reduction of the HDPE liner OD so that it may fit inside the
otherwise impossibly small ID of the host pipe. Even after the HDPE liner pipe exits the diameter
reducing equipment, the thermoplastic properties of HDPE as well as the continuing axial tension of the
wireline prevents the HDPE from immediately returning to its original OD.
Once the HDPE liner has been completely installed inside the host pipe, the axial tension is released, the
liner pipe begins to expand, the HDPE liner returns to its near original OD, and a tight fit against the
inner wall of the host pipe is created. Following relaxation of the liner pipe, custom manufactured
HDPE flange-fittings (stub ends) are thermally fused to each end of the lined section. The flanged
sections and the HDPE stub ends isolate each installed, lined section from one another. A steel spacer
ring is placed between the raised faces of the steel flanges and around the HDPE stub ends to help
ensure a leak free connection. Monitoring vents are placed near each flange to confirm that the
monolithic HDPE pipe lining system is intact and the inside of the pipeline is completely and
continuously isolated from the host pipe and the monitoring vent. The two steel flanges are then
positioned together and the line is tested and bolted-up before placing in service. A representative
drawing of a lined section is found in Figure 1.

5. ACCEPTANCE AND APPLICATIONS


This installation method has been proven over decades of projects around the globe, and as more and
more projects have been completed, the acceptance and use of HDPE liners have become more
prevalent. This has also led to the use of HDPE liner in more services and applications as well as more
severe operating conditions. Furthermore, as more enhanced oil recovery methods have been utilized to
capture more oil, these operations introduce inherently corrosive conditions. Not only are secondary
recovery methods increasing, but tertiary methods such as miscible flooding using high pressure, high
temperature (supercritical) CO2 injection are also on the rise. This is in addition to the production of
higher temperature, higher gas production, and higher sulfur content wells which all lead to higher rates
of internal corrosion.

6. ALTERNATIVES
To fight this trend and the inevitable onslaught of internal pipeline corrosion, there are numerous options
available. The use of corrosion resistant alloys (CRA) for pipeline construction is a proven method to
ensure the long life of an oilfields production infrastructure. Along with its documented effectiveness,
it is also well known to be one of the most expensive methods to combat corrosion. Instead, some
operating units prefer to install carbon steel pipelines along with chemical injection facilities to
continuously inject corrosion inhibitors. Not only does this introduce capital and operating costs to keep
the chemical tanks full and injection equipment functional, but it has proven nearly impossible to
optimize injection rates especially when operational upsets are encountered. Although effective, much
of the expensive corrosion inhibitor chemical is wasted in the hopes of controlling internal corrosion.
For some applications, fusion bonded epoxy (FBE) has been used to fight internal corrosion, and
although carbon steel pipeline life is extended beyond that of bare steel, problems have been reported
with (a) less than adequate protection of the welded joint area, (b) existence of holidays, thereby
exposing pinhole sized areas of the carbon steel, and (c) portions of FBE flaking off the host pipe,
thereby exposing large areas of bare steel and possibly causing plugging issues downstream of the
pipeline.

7. HIGH TEMPERATURE AND GASEOUS APPLICATIONS


A problem most often cited with smooth walled, tight fitting HDPE liner in more severe, higher
temperature, and gaseous applications is the threat of liner collapse when operational upsets cause
significant pressure fluctuations. This collapse possibility is caused by the permeation of gaseous
molecules driven by the pressure differential between the pipeline and the HDPE/steel micro-annulus
over time and at elevated temperatures. All HDPE plastic pipe liners used in gaseous applications are
susceptible to the permeation of gas into the annulus between the liner and the carbon steel pipe. Smaller
molecules such as hydrogen are more prone to permeation than others, and all molecules tend to
permeate at greater relative rates under higher pressure and temperature conditions. The higher
temperatures provide individual molecules more energy to permeate through the solid HDPE material
and the partial pressure differential creates a concentration gradient, hence a greater driving force for the
molecules to migrate through the HDPE.
The gaseous molecules will continue to permeate until equilibrium is reached between the microannulus and the pipeline. If the pressure of the pipeline decreases significantly and quickly enough, that
is at a greater rate than the molecules can permeate back from the micro-annulus to the pipeline, then the
gas molecules in the micro-annulus will expand to reach a new equilibrium assumed to closely follow
the ideal gas law of PV = nRT. As the pressure decreases, the volume must increase at a constant
temperature and number of molecules in the micro-annulus. The expansion of the gas in the annulus
will exert force on the HDPE liner in the direction away from the host pipe and toward the center of the
pipeline. There are certain design characteristics and physical properties of the HDPE liner that can
prevent collapse, namely thickness of a smooth wall liner, but if there are enough molecules in the
micro-annulus and if the pressure drop of the pipeline is not adequately controlled, the HDPE liner will
be forced away from the host pipeline.
Empirical evidence has shown that on many occasions, a first collapse may be relatively small and
insignificant such that it is not noticeable and does not materially affect pipeline operation. When the
pipeline is returned to normal operating pressure, the increased pressure forces the HDPE liner back
toward the host pipe. However, the tight fit of the liner is not as tight as the initial installation such that
the micro-annulus has grown in volume. This then allows more molecules to permeate into the larger
micro-annulus, and should another operational upset and uncontrolled pressure drop occur, the increased

number of molecules will need to expand to fill the larger void. Subsequent collapses will become
larger and more pronounced to the point that deleterious operational effects may be incurred.
The monitoring vents placed on the line during installation and used in the leak testing process can be
utilized to vent gas that has permeated the HDPE liner (Figure 2), and this has been the standard method
utilized for smooth wall liners when installed in gaseous applications prone to operational upsets. The
requirement for this type of operation is to open the vents occasionally to release any permeated gas and
confirm that the HDPE liner has not been compromised such that a physical leak is present. Because of
the oversize nature of the tight fitting HDPE liner, the path for the gas to migrate along the microannulus to the monitoring vents could be so tortuous such that they may remain trapped inside despite
the fact that the monitoring vent opens the micro-annulus to atmospheric pressure. Weld bead
penetration at the joints is one example of where and how permeated gas could become trapped.

8. THE SOLUTION
A new technology in HDPE lining for high temperature and gaseous applications was therefore
developed. This technology increases the wall thickness of an HDPE liner so that grooves may be
created equally on the outside surface along the entire length of the installed liner (Figure 3).
These grooves not only allow an area for the molecules to collect once they have permeated the HDPE
wall, but they form an annular path or unobstructed freeway along the entire HDPE lined section to
the existing monitoring vents as previously shown in Figure 2. In the area of the monitoring vents at
each end of the pipeline section, a large circumferential groove is cut on the outer surface of the HDPE
liner to connect all of the lateral grooves.
By virtue of increasing the wall thickness to accommodate the grooves, the inherent collapse resistance
of the HDPE liner is also increased exponentially according to:
Pc = 2.334E(t/R)^2
where Pc is the collapse pressure (bar), E is the HDPE liner Youngs modulus (MPa), t is the
liner wall thickness (mm), and R is the average radius of the liner (mm). Since E decreases as a
function of temperature, the collapse pressure (hence, resistance of the HDPE liner to collapse) would
also decrease without an increase in wall thickness. This increased wall thickness combined with the
grooves to allow complete venting of the permeated gases is the most advanced and accepted method of
utilizing high density polyethylene liners in high temperature and gaseous applications.

9. ADDITIONAL DESIGN AND IMPLEMENTATION IMPROVEMENTS


Although with the grooved liners there is a path to vent the permeated gas, by design there is also a
larger void for the permeated gases to collect. This fact is an important consideration since an
uncontrolled pressure drop in a pipeline using a grooved liner would lead to a larger expansion of the
permeated gases. As such, it is important to diligently monitor and vent a grooved liner lined pipeline.
The most common method of doing this is by manual operation by pipeline personnel as done for the
smooth walled HDPE liners. In areas that are difficult to access or are in environmentally sensitive
areas, small CRA pipes may be installed on adjacent monitoring vents to jumper the isolating stub end
flanged connections. This is illustrated in Figure 4 with a representative grooved HDPE Safetyliner
forming the annulus path between the host pipe and area A showing the CRA jumper with an
additional valve for monitoring and/or venting purposes. Because there is a clear path from one end of a
grooved liner installed section of pipe to the other end, this jumper can be used to connect one section of
lined pipe to another section until a more suitable point of disposition is available.

For highly concentrated sour gas, these jumpers may be used to allow the permeated gas to flow to
collection points such as stand-alone sweetening pots or small compressors (Figure 5) to force the gas
over long distances to a central treatment facility. Furthermore, environmental and safety concerns can
justify the installation of automatic detection devices that monitor annular pressure to ensure that the
permeated gas removal system is functioning properly and/or to make sure that the integrity of the
grooved HDPE liner has not been breeched.
At CO2 production facilities, grooved liners are often the internal corrosion protection method of choice,
and the pipelines can often be found with the monitoring vents open to the atmosphere. This prevents
any buildup of permeated CO2, and the small amount of permeated gas is considered to be no more than
the amount of CO2 that naturally seeps up through the ground from the CO2 reservoirs. In areas where
Water-Alternating-Gas is used for enhanced oil recovery with miscible CO2 flooding, there is usually no
significant concern for venting of the permeated gases either, and grooved liners are often used because
of the higher temperature and gaseous conditions.
The use of grooved HDPE lining of carbon steel pipelines in CO2 service continues to be one of the
most reliable and cost effective means of extending pipeline lifetime, often beyond the useful life of a
well. It is a fit and forget solution, and the following is a description of just such an application of
grooved HDPE lining in a CO2 well injection environment.

10. AN APPLICATION - CO2 INJECTION AT YATES FIELD IN IRAAN, TEXAS


A thousand feet below the canyons and brushland of the TransPecos region of West Texas lies a vast sea
of oil known as Yates Field. Discovered in 1926, it holds the second largest remaining oil reserves in
North America.
Marathon Oil and its predecessor companies and partners operated the field for more than 70 years
before selling their interests to Kinder Morgan Energy Partners in 2003.
The field, which covers approximately 26,400 acres or almost 41 square miles, has to date yielded
approximately 1.5 billion of the 5 billion barrels of crude oil it holds.
Energy companies typically must invest substantial amounts to lift oil from the ground and move it up to
surface. Yates Field has now passed its peak production of 125,000 barrels/day, today producing
approximately 27,500 b/d. It has remained viable through enhanced recovery methods, including water
floods, nitrogen injection and, more recently, CO2 injection.
Kinder Morgan currently has about 650 current active injection and production wells, approximately
20 percent of which are used to inject water or to re-inject produced CO2 into the reservoir. These
recovery agents act as both a pressurizing medium and a viscosity-reducer, enabling the oil to flow more
rapidly through the earth to the producing well. The producing wells lift the oil, water and gas mixture
to the surface. CO2 injection enhances production and is expected to extend the fields life for many
years to come.
Extending the fields life, however, also means extending the life of the infrastructure needed to operate
it. The corrosive fluids running through its labyrinth of pipelines have taken their toll.
By the mid 1980s, Marathon Oil had begun a rehabilitation program to line corroded pipes already in the
ground, including water injection and other lines used in secondary recovery. By the time Kinder
Morgan purchased the operations in 2003, a total of 44,400 linear feet of new and existing pipe at Yates

Field, ranging from 6 to 16 inches in diameter, had been lined with HDPE liner. When Kinder Morgan
assumed ownership later that year, it continued the program, lining new water injection lines, as well as
rehabilitating unlined pipes suffering from internal corrosion.
When Kinder Morgan decided to increase CO2 injection for tertiary recovery, another application for
HDPE lining emerged. Specifically, after CO2 is added to a reservoir, the fluid extracted a highly
corrosive mixture of oil, water and gas travels through a flow line to a nearby production station,
where the three elements are separated. Due to the known permeation of CO2 through HDPE especially
at elevated temperatures and pressures, the use of grooved HDPE liners is warranted. In recent years, a
total of 18 miles of pipe ranging from 4 to 24 inches in diameter have received HDPE liners at Yates
Field which illustrates the continued successful implementation, installation, and operation of pipelines
utilizing a grooved HDPE lining system.
More than helping to assure the integrity of the piping infrastructure, the HDPE lining program at Yates
Field has also yielded other benefits related to safety and environmental compliance.
Considered a star among oil production sites in the U.S., Yates Field was the first oil field in the
nation to be recognized by OSHA for its Voluntary Protection Program because of the high importance
management places on both safety and environmental issues in an effort to achieve operational
excellence. To receive this recognition, Kinder Morgan management documented their plans for
continuously improving the safety at the site which includes, in part, the successful use of the HDPE
lining system.

11. SUMMARY
All HDPE plastic pipe liners used in gaseous applications are susceptible to the permeation of gas into
the annulus between the liner and the carbon steel pipe. Smaller molecules such as hydrogen are more
prone to permeation than others, and all molecules tend to permeate at greater relative rates under higher
pressure and temperature conditions. The grooved HDPE liner system is designed to provide a more
effective and efficient method of managing the permeated gases that migrate into the annulus.
Furthermore, it offers all of the same polyethylene lining protection of a smooth-wall HDPE liner, but
differs in that a series of small grooves exist on the outside of the liner. The grooves in the HDPE liner
provide a migration path for any gases that may permeate the liner. These gases are channeled along the
grooves to monitoring vents positioned near the pipeline connections. This monitoring and venting can
be manually operated or fully automated to keep annular pressure below the level desired to prevent
integrity problems and to allow quick detection of any possible leak should a breech in the HDPE liner
occur.
The use of oversized HDPE liners to protect pipelines from internal corrosion has been used
successfully for over 25 years. With the advent of thicker, grooved liners and an appropriate monitoring
and venting system and operation plan in place, there is a greater likelihood of overcoming the
limitations previously considered for the use of HDPE liners in applications of higher temperature
service and/or the presence of vapor within the pipeline.

Figure 1 Internally HDPE Lined Steel Pipe with Monitoring Vent Holes

Figure 2 Venting of Permeated Gas through Monitoring Vent

Figure 3 Representative Grooved HDPE Liner for Use


in High Temperature and Gaseous Applications

Figure 4 Example of Monitoring Vent CRA Jumper

Figure 5 Example of Permeated Gas Disposition via Compressor

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